Report: Samsung Planning A Move Into Low-Power Server Market

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Samsung may be gearing up to enter the low-power server chip space, according to a report this week from The Wall Street Journal.

The Korean electronics giant, which is known primarily in the chip market for its ARM-based processors that fuel mobile devices including the iPhone, has hired a number of former AMD execs from the server space to staff its Austin, Texas-based research and development center. Most recently, Samsung has brought on Patrick Patla, former vice president of AMD’s Opteron server chip group.

A Samsung rep confirmed Patla’s new position, but declined to comment further.

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The Wall Street Journal also pointed to Samsung’s recent hiring of Jim Mergard, former AMD vice president and chief engineer, along with Brad Burgess, former chief architect of AMD’s low-power Bobcast processors, as potential signs of a server offering to come.

Keith Hawkins, who was appointed vice president of design at Samsung’s Austin facility in April 2010, also comes from an AMD background. He had worked for the chip maker for over 15 years, also as a VP of design.

Samsung’s expansion into the server space would pit it against rival chip makers AMD and Intel, both of which already offer low-power server processors today. AMD just broadened its low-power server offering last month with the launch of its new Bulldozer-based Opteron 3200 series of chips, designed for use in one-socket, Web-hosting servers. It also announced in February its plans to acquire microserver vendor SeaMicro, which it said would strengthen its go-to-market strategy for cloud-based server technologies.

Intel grew its own server offering last month with the release of its new Xeon E5-2600 series of low-power Sandy Bridge processors. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip giant said the new family of chips keeps power costs low, while still delivering a performance boost of 80 percent compared to the previous-generation Xeon 5600 series.

Samsung’s chips rely on ARM-based architectures, however, which have been long regarded as industry leaders in the low-power space.

Next: An Analyst's Take

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